How To Handle Momentum Shifts in Matches
How do you handle momentum shifts during long tennis matches?
Momentum shifts can be mentally draining for some tennis players…
These players sense a change in momentum as the match is slipping away and find it difficult to get back into the match mentally.
Maybe this scenario rings true with you…
You cruise through the first sets winning 6-2. You feel in control of the match…
Your confidence is high and you feel like you are “in the zone.”
All of a sudden, in the next set your opponent hits a few great shots and breaks your serve.
You feel the momentum shifting in favor of your opponent.
You feel your opponent is totally in charge of the match and you are just trying to get the ball over the net.
You feel your chances to win the match are practically zero even though you were playing killer tennis the last set.
Battling back and trying to take back momentum seems like an impossibility.
Momentum is a matter of perception or how you view what is going on and what you can do about it.
When momentum is on your side, you have a heightened sense of confidence because, in the moment, you have proof that you have the ability to play great tennis.
After all, if you are serving aces, hitting big returns and chasing down every ball, you must be in the zone, right?
When momentum shifts, does that mean you are no longer talented or is that your perception?
When the pendulum of momentum swings in favor of your opponent, does that mean it will not swing back in your favor or is that a mere perception of yours?
When momentum is on the side of your opponent, does that mean there is nothing you can do to take back control of the match or is that a misconception you are buying into at that time?
If you can perceive momentum shifts as just that, a back and forth battle that is the essence of tennis matches, you will be able to:
- Play confidently in each point
- Stay poised and calm
- Keep your energy high
- Look for reasons to shift the momentum back to you
- Determinedly fight for every point no matter the score
Related Article: Tennis Psychology: The Momentum Shift
Such was the case for Johanna Konta…
Konta was crowned champion at the 2017 Miami Open, but it was her perspective that kept her fighting through during a highly contested semifinal against Venus Williams.
Konta battled Williams through several momentum shifts and outlasted her opponent 6-4, 7-5.
KONTA: “Both of us had a lot of momentum shifts, and I think there were a lot of 40-Love games and deuce games… I’m just very happy that I was able to, with that, keep it in good perspective. I still took the good things. Even with those games that I lost where I had chances, I think I still saw that I was playing the right way and it was still going to be the way that was going to bring me the best chance of coming through.”
Perspective is a powerful ally during momentum shifts that allows you to keep your head in the game, look for the good things, and compete for every point.
Try this tip to deal with momentum shifts during a match:
Take Konta’s approach… Look for the good things even when you lose a close game.
Focus on the things you are doing well, not the mistakes and missed opportunities to convert on game point.
Battle for every point, which can take your attention off the score and the outcomes of every point.
You win matches by winning a series of battles, so stay focused, aggressive and battle one point at a time.
Are you (or your players) performing up to your ability in competition?
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